A white teacher at Bowsher High School was suspended this year after students claimed she made a racially insensitive comment to them.
Crystal L. Franks, 39, was suspended for a day without pay because she told a white girl and black boy “You two have jungle fever,” according to Toledo Public Schools documents. Ms. Franks admitted to TPS administrators that she made the remark, though she claimed her intentions were misrepresented.
Ms. Franks, a social studies teacher at Bowsher, has been employed by TPS since 1999. District officials claim they’ve requested three meetings with her because of “inappropriate and unprofessional language and conduct.”
District records show Ms. Franks made the comment to the students on Oct. 2. The teacher told a disciplinary hearing officer that when someone responded to her comment by saying “Oh, that is racial!” she replied that it wasn’t, and that they apparently had not seen the 1991 Spike Lee film “Jungle Fever.”
The hearing officer noted that “jungle fever,” while referring to some tropical diseases, is also used as a racist term for interracial relationships, particularly between African-Americans and Caucasians. The hearing officer also wrote that the cited movie “explores the highly bigoted subtext of discrimination toward persons in interracial relationships,” and that Ms. Franks’ contention that her intentions were misrepresented were “neither plausible nor believable.”
The Blade’s attempts to reach Ms. Franks for comment were unsuccessful.
She served her suspension on Jan. 24, when schools were closed because of inclement weather, so she missed no class time but did lose her pay for the day.
The Toledo Board of Education voted last week to approve her suspension.